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Whistle While You Work

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

Whistle While You Work

Can you tell me what happiness is? Have you ever spontaneously broken out in song while you worked? Do you find yourself whistling on the way to work?

If you’re of an age with me, you probably remember Snow White singing her way through the forrest and the 7 dwarfs who joined her in her merriment.

Just whistle while you work

Put on that grin and start right in

To whistle loud and long.

Happiness, spontaneous song might have been my idea of what work could be like back then, early on. But that expectation got kicked out with my first real job: Changing out the dirt in a flower bed in a greenhouse. Shovel that dirt out of the bed at waist height, throw it into a cart above my head, and repeat.

The only break was when the cart was pushed down the track and emptied into the pickup. Four or five loads like that and then riding on the mound of dirt in the truck out into the back field so we could shovel it out again. Repeat.

Grimiest, dirtiest job I ever had. Not to mention hot. It was summertime. It was a greenhouse.

Definitely not whistling moments.

If happiness is the goal in our work, we’ll have a clean miss if all we’re going for is whistling. I think retirement works the same way.

We have to seek something else. What should we go for? What could we go for?

There are some alternatives that we could seek that are a little more long-lived, not so fleeting.


My wife and I were on a trip to Yorkshire and visited York Minster. There were several volunteer docents around so we struck up a conversation with one while he gave us an excellent tour of the cathedral.

When the tour was over, Gordon, our guide asked if we had plans to tour the town. And we said we’d like to but really didn’t know where to begin. He said, “You have to see the snickelways in the old part of the town.” The expressions on our faces clearly displayed ignorance. He kindly offered to give us a tour.

We heartily agreed and had the most marvelous time.

It seems that in the old part of town buildings were constructed very close together. They might even be connected on the 2nd or 3rd story but left a narrow way or alley between. Thus, snickelway.

Bless Gordon. We went into and out of the snickelways to discover hidden gardens shared by patrons or residents and out